What is there left to do but hail Maria Kowroski after one of her most glorious adagios in Symphony in C last evening as NYC Ballet opened its spring season with a blessed all-Balanchine program that included Allegro Brillante and The Four Temperaments. We’ve used up all of the adjectives for Maria over the years. This role and her Diamonds role from Jewels make us all but forget that she is also one of the most honest interpreters of Balanchine's black & white ballets such as Agon and Stravinsky Violin Concerto as well as a stunningly beautiful dancer in a white tutu. But last night, who really expected Maria to alight the stage and dance as well as she did a decade ago? Will this year, her 23rd, be her best ever? Last night suggested it might.
Rather than gearing up like it was the beginning of the spring season, she simply took off from where she left off with her incredible Slaughter on Tenth Avenue that closed the winter season. And if she bent a penche arabesque or two past 180 degrees like she might as the Slaughter showgirl, well, she’s earned the right. Those most beautiful of all beautiful limbs were steady and strong without resorting to any showy flexing of muscles that the less accomplished must resort to in order to get their attention.
We owe more than a nod to Tyler Angle for his flawless partnering of Maria. He knew where he would be needed even before she did. Here’s hoping that we get to see this pairing in Diamonds this summer.
In the First Movement of Symphony in C, Ashley Bouder and Chase Finlay were mismatched: she of unwavering stability and shine; he of uncertainty and less than sharp technique. Alston MacGill and Harrison Ball danced the Third Movement without any big issues although Alston blew out those tricky pirouettes in the finale. She will have to mature before she becomes believable in that big sparkly tiara. Brittany Pollack and Taylor Stanley led the Fourth Movement with fine brio. We’ve missed so much of Brittany’s dancing in the past year due to injury; it’s a little disappointing to hear that she’s going to take time off from NYCB for the Carousel Broadway gig.
In the final section when the four leading women lined up to do their pas de bourrée en tournant with that little fouette renversé, our veterans – so different physically and so different as dancers – were able to match each other brilliantly in the timing of the working leg. Our younger ballerinas allowed their working legs to swim to the second position, arriving some where around the 1.25-1.5 count instead of on the 1. We’re hoping for a better result on Sunday.
Tiler Peck and Andrew Veyette polished off Allegro Brillante as though they were famished and could not devour its challenges fast enough. (The tempo was a little like a Sunday afternoon stroll, though. Tiler is at her most astonishing when she has to chase the tempo instead of pushing it.) The dancers may have been tempted to chomp down every delicious bite of Balanchine, since after this week, there will be four long weeks without even so much as a morsel.
The demi soloist women (Megan Johnson, Meagan Mann, Sara Adams, and Lydia Wellington) quite outdid themselves in precision and energy. The men (Devin Alberda, Daniel Applebaum, Cameron Dieck, and Andrew Scordato) were fine also, with Applebaum’s growing strength and confidence flattering his always crystalline lines.
All five sections of The Four Temperaments was a joy to watch but it was a little strange to see Choleric (Teresa Reichlen) as icy cool and calm while Sanguinic (Sara Mearns with Jared Angle) looked like a limb-throwing temper tantrum. Ask la Cour in Phlegmatic was as placid and articulate as always, but when did this section become all about the four women back-up dancers? Answer: when Ashley Hod, Emily Kikta, Claire Kretzschmar, and Isabella LaFreniere took over. What an interesting contrast their stalking attitudes made with the lead dancer’s calm demeanor. Each one of these women had such a powerful stage presence that it was hard to look away to watch Mr. Phlegmatic. We were so happy to see Isabella dancing so strongly following her absence last winter due to injury. Speaking of missing due to injury, we are hoping that Adrian Danchig-Waring will be back on stage soon.
Gonzalo Garcia’s Melancholic was respectable but he doesn’t cover space the way other interpreters do. The Theme section, danced by Lydia Wellington & Andrew Scordato, Lauren King & Daniel Applebaum, and Ashley Laracey & Cameron Dieck, was in the hands of the experienced — all of whom made their parts greater than the sum of the steps.
The HH Pump Bump Award, Giuseppe Zanotti’s stiletto with magic straps, is bestowed upon Maria Kowroski for her brilliance in Symphony in C.